Wednesday, April 24, 2013

the trick

“The trick naturally is what [Robert] Duncan learned years ago and tried to teach us — not to search for the perfect poem but to let your way of writing of the moment go along its own paths, explore and retreat but never be fully realized (confined) within the boundaries of one poem. . . . There is really no single poem.” —Jack Spicer

I don't totally disagree with what Spicer says:

—his "trick" works for some poets—Frank O'Hara for example—but not for others,

whose trick is "to search for the perfect poem"—Bishop and Mallarme, to name a couple—

Many perhaps most poets sort of dither away between this either-or,

compare the "perfected" poems of Robert Lowell versus his Notebook sonnets . . .


missing dove

Missing from Dove Anthology

Clayton Eshleman prepared the following list of "important" 20th century American poets missing from the recent Rita Dove-edited Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry.  It's not alphabetical, so I wonder about the order of names: is he arranging them in terms of quality, the best ones first and the less better ones after?  And since he modestly includes himself, how did he decide where to position his name?

Louis Zukofsky
George Oppen
Charles Reznikoff
Carl Rakosi
Laura Riding
Mina Loy
William Bronk
Paul Blackburn
Allen Ginsberg
Larry Eigner
Edward Dorn
Jack Kerouac
Lorine Niedecker
Jackson Mac Low
Jack Spicer
Sylvia Plath
Robin Blaser
Charles Bernstein
Armand Schwerner
Philip Lamantia
Michael McClure
Philip Whalen
Cid Corman
Barbara Guest
James Schuyler
Ron Padgett
Tony Towle
Charles North
Jerome Rothenberg
Robert Kelly
Clayton Eshleman
David Antin
Gerrit Lansing
Bob Perelman
Rae Armantrout
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
John Wieners
Nathaniel Tarn
Clark Coolidge
Gustaf Sobin
Edward Sanders
John Taggert
David Bromige
Jayne Cortez
Fanny Howe
Susan Howe
Keith Waldrop
Rosmarie Waldrop
Judy Grahn
August Kleinzahler
Anne Waldman
Kenneth Rexroth
Andrew Joron
Forrest Gander
Will Alexander
Diane DiPrima
Alice Notley
Elaine Equi
Thom Gunn
William Everson
Brenda Hillman
Linh Dinh
John Olson
Anselm Hollo
Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge
Carla Harryman
David Shapiro
Leslie Scalapino



When I started writing poetry sort of devotedly in my early 20s, I went through a period of being influenced by Robert Creeley and trying to write like him until I happened to read an essay by Kenneth Rexroth that said something like "currently 2000 young poets are trying to write like Robert Creeley"—an observation which really rocked me.  Soon afterwards I began consciously imitating other poets than Creeley, though over the decades since I continued to read him with appreciation, nothing to say more than that, he is still a poet whose work I admire and look up to as a model of devotion.  His verse still astonishes and delights me.